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2019-20 Clippers Report Card: JaMychal Green

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The backup big could be in line for a much bigger role next season.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Two Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Key Information:

Name: JaMychal Green

Age: 30

Years in the NBA: 6 years

Key stats: Green appeared in 63 regular-season games (out of 72) and averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game. He shot 38.7% from 3-point range on 3.8 attempts per contest.

In the playoffs, Green played in every game off the bench and averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game. He shot 43.5% on 1.8 3-point attempts per game.

Future contract status: Green signed a two-year deal at the room exception in the 2019 offseason and has a player option worth $5.0 million for the 2020-21 season.

Summary:

JaMychal Green came into the 2019-20 season with high expectations after a successful stint as a small-ball five against the Golden State Warriors in the postseason. He would be another switchable defender against wings and bigs in a roster already loaded with them, and the Clippers could use him at center in special circumstances.

As it turned out, there was no flexibility with Green’s role. He was a backup four, almost exclusively tied at the hip to Montrezl Harrell. During the regular season, Green played 1948 of his 2598 possessions with Harrell (about 75%), 180 possessions next to Ivica Zubac, and just 54 possessions with no center on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass. Green was still a quality rebounder and floor spacer, but those skills had less value at power forward than at center.

Despite his malleability in a variety of lineups and his two-way ability, Green saw less time during the postseason. He was solid during the playoffs, but didn’t impress as he did the year before. The Clippers didn’t go small much in the playoffs; when they did, Marcus Morris Sr. was the five of choice instead of Green. In hindsight, Green’s missed dunk in Game 7 against Denver that bounced off the rim and ricocheted all the way back to halfcourt was a fitting capper to a season that didn’t quite go according to plan.

Strengths:

Green is a steady presence on the floor, night in and night out. On the offensive end, he gives a good effort on the glass and generally takes high-quality shots. Only 17 of his 352 field-goal attempts weren’t in the paint or beyond the arc. The Clippers don’t require Green to do much on offense other than space the floor and shoot, and he does that well. His gravity creates room for Lou Williams and Harrell to run the pick-and-roll and Harrell to roll to the basket. Green is also an outlet for Harrell on the short roll.

Green got off to a monstrous start to the season — he shot 15-of-26 from 3-point range in October, and his best game of the year came against Utah in the second week when they Clippers used him a stretch five to pull Rudy Gobert away from the rim. He went into a bit of a slump after that, which was exacerbated by a tailbone injury in December, but he improved his 3-point shooting steadily from January through the seeding games.

Defensively, Green also wasn’t given a large role, but he defends his man in isolation capably and is a useful help defender. His defensive rating was 105.7, which was lower than the team’s average, but still acceptable considering who he often shared the court with. Green is also a switchable big, given the Clippers more flexibility in their defensive schemes when he is on the floor.

Weaknesses:

Nothing about Green really pops off the page. He’s a perfectly capable role player, but he doesn’t ever have huge scoring outbursts; the only time he scored more than 16 points all season was that one game against the Jazz in October. Green is also reliant on other players to generate offense; he can’t create for himself or his teammates. Again, that isn’t his game, and he doesn’t play beyond himself, but that does make him a little easier to defend when teams can focus on the Clippers in a postseason series.

The Clippers also didn’t seem to trust Green in the highest-leverage moments. He only played 36 clutch minutes all season — all of them in the reguIar season. It’s quite possible that is a fault of the coaching staff instead of a weakness of Green, but it’s something to keep in mind moving forward when another coach leads this team next year.

Furthermore, as a point of reference: the lineups with Green at center were outscored by 10 points over 36 minutes in the playoffs.

Future with the Clippers:

Green is too important for the Clippers to lose. He is the lone big on the bench who can play defense, and he can shoot. The Clippers need to keep him unless they can entice someone like Jerami Grant to come to Los Angeles. It’s Green’s choice whether he wants to stay because he has a player option in his contract from 2019-20, so he could squeeze the Clippers for a larger contract, but the best guess is that he is once again with LA.

Overall grade: B-

The Clippers got an above-average role player season from Green. It’s not his fault that the Clippers didn’t use him optimally, but he has to be graded on his actual output, not just his potential.